What Was She Up To?
Cathy couldn’t help but have a bad feeling when the woman got up from her seat to strut down the front of the aisle. She was walking with purpose, gripping her bag tightly as her muscles tensed. When she put her hand inside the bag, Cathy winced.
But chaos would soon reign down on flight 23 to Crete, Greece, and Cathy’s life would change forever.
In Need Of A Vacation
Cathy Waterman was a woman that needed a vacation after constant long hours and stresses. Running a business does that to you.
She decided that she’d go over to Greece for some much-needed time off. But she couldn’t have prepared herself for what came on her flight.
Let The Vacation Begin
She got ready at 4 in the morning and got into a taxi to get to the airport. Despite her being tired she was very excited to get on her plane and head for Greece.
She would always remember her trip, but it wouldn’t be the right kind of remembrance.
Arriving At The Airport
She got to the airport and realized she was early. She was happy and decided to look at what the airport had to offer.
The queue was long and she was right behind a woman in her 40s. She had no idea at the time but that same woman would change later cause a scene.
What Was Her Problem?
While queuing, Cathy exchanged small talk with the woman. But this woman was very tight-lipped. Cathy tried to talk to the woman while they were in line. But the woman didn’t seem so keen to talk back.
She was holding a bag very tightly and just nodded in response to anything that she said. Cathy didn’t notice these warning signs at the time.
She Had No Idea What Was Coming
She brushed the woman off as a first-time flyer. But it would be so much worse than that.
This woman would actually have a reason for clutching her bag, and it would be so much worse than she could have ever imagined.
A Drunk Couple
Cathy was eager to get to the next stage of her experience before going to Greece. There was a loud couple right behind her who must have been drinking before they got to the airport.
She knew that in mere hours she’d be in Greece putting on suntan lotion and drinking cocktails under the sun.
Boarding The Flight
Cathy was now right by the entryway into the plane. She smiled at all of the attendants and boarded. She had her ticket and happily gave it get into the plane.
Everyone on board seemed happy and relaxed as if they were also going to Greece. She thought nothing could go wrong.
The Same Drunk Couple
Cathy then spotted the same couple from before, drinking and laughing loudly as people walked past.
Cathy didn’t want them to ruin her flight, but little did she know that it wouldn’t be the couple that would be the big problem.
She Was Close
Once she found her seat, Cathy got herself comfortable. She looked up and saw the 40-something woman from earlier; she was a few seats down.
Cathy didn’t know why, but every time she locked eyes with her, a shiver ran up her spine.
Making A Run For It
Once all passengers were on board, the flight took off. Then suddenly, the 40-something woman darted up off her seat and stood up straight, at the end of the aisle. What was she doing? Was she making an announcement?
Without a second to waste, the woman reached into her backpack and pulled something out. What she pulled out left everybody on the flight lost for words.
Giving Out Candy
The woman pulled out bags of candy and started handing them out to passengers. As soon as Cathy saw the brightly-colored bags she wondered why this woman would be giving candy out.
It seemed like a kind gesture from the 40-something woman. But nobody knew her hidden agenda.
Thank Me Later
The woman approached Cathy and dropped a bag of candy into her lap. Cathy looked at the woman, and an eerie smile crept across her face. “Thanks,” Cathy said. The woman looked at Cathy and merely whispered “thank me later.”
What did she mean by that? Cathy brushed off the strange woman and her bags of candy and started watching a movie on her flight’s built-in-TV. But she would soon regret it.
Handing Candy To The Couple
The woman had gone round to everybody in the aisle and handed them bags of candy. But she still had two more passengers to give candy to: the drunk couple.
Cathy watched the 40-something woman, as she approached the couple. Nobody could have expected what this situation would lead to.
What Do You Think You’re Doing?
Cathy saw the woman drop the bag of candy into the couple’s lap, which resulted in the girlfriend yelling out, “what do you think you’re doing?”
Cathy’s eyes looked over across the plane and saw the girlfriend had stood up and was yelling in the 40-something woman’s face. “Keep your hands off my boyfriend” the girlfriend yelled. And what she did next, left air stewards calling for the pilot.
All Hell Breaks Loose
As quick as flash, the girlfriend swung her jeweled fist and knocked the 40-something woman backward onto a row of startled passengers.
All hell broke loose and the angry girlfriend tried to punch the woman again, but now the girlfriend was holding something. It was a note. A note that the 40-something woman had given the couple, along with the bag of candy.
A Mysterious Note
The girlfriend was screaming at the 40-something woman while holding up the note. “Are you joking?” The girlfriend said, referring to the mysterious note.
Cathy couldn’t see what was written on the note, but when she found out later on she was lost for words.
An Emergency Landing
As expected, the air stewards were both alarmed and worried about the situation that had happened on the flight. As quickly as they could, they called up the pilot to explain the situation.
He told them he had to make an emergency landing to kick the violent and drunk girlfriend off the plane. But back in the seating area, things had taken a turn for the worst.
Looking At The Note
Over in the seating area, the 40-something woman and the angry girlfriend’s fight was still going on. Many fellow passengers intervened to break them up, but these women were seeing red.
It’s only when the mysterious note dropped on the floor that Cathy discreetly picked it up and took a peek inside. When she saw what was written, everything made sense.
You see on the note, the 40-something woman had written “you look cute, hit me up sometime,” followed by the woman’s number. This woman had clearly written the note for the angry girlfriend’s boyfriend.
After the two angry women were separated, both were kept at opposite ends of the flight while the flight emergency landed. But what would be the outcome for these two angry women?
When they landed, the violent girlfriend was kicked off the plane, along with her boyfriend. The 40-something woman was allowed to stay on the flight, but that was because nobody ever found the note.
Cathy had kept it and decided not to show anyone. She didn’t want any more drama, she just wanted to be in Greece already. And so, for the second time Cathy’s plane took off. Her vacation officially started… now.
But what Cathy experienced wasn’t half as bad as what Savannah Phillips had to endure on her flight…
The Hero In Plain Sight
She tried holding the tears in. But it was too late, she had already seen more than enough. She quickly turned her head towards the window and tried to comfort herself.
That’s when she heard him. Confused, she lifted her head up and watched him confront the man in awe. Unknowingly to her, he couldn’t wait to make his move.
Larger Than Life
Savannah Phillips was a proud woman. As a working mother, she had a lot to boast about. However, there was one small voice in the back of her mind that told her she would never be good enough.
Every time Savannah flew, she booked a seat that had no one around her. But today, it was a packed plane. Her anxiety started to kick in as she prepared herself for her journey, but nothing could prepare her for this.
As a plus-size woman, Savannah had a problem with her weight for most of her life. She endured constant ridicule and stares which really impacted her self-esteem.
Being overweight has been a big problem in America for years. What is more recent, however, is the emergence of body shaming, which can lead to all kinds of problems. Something Savannah was about to be reminded of.
Savannah hated planes, especially their tiny seating but as a businesswoman, she couldn’t avoid the need to travel. So she bit her lip and got on with it.
She also found a way to manage her anxieties by booking isolated seats so that she could spare herself the discomfort of sitting next to somebody who was uncomfortable with her weight.
Beggars Can’t Be Choosers
When Savannah reached the counter of her gate, she double-checked with the check-in assistant that the plane was at full capacity. She asked if they could give her an isolated seat. They denied her request. The plane was simply too full.
She desperately pleaded but it was no use. She was asking for the impossible.
Savannah and the rest of the passengers walk out onto the runway to their plane. She already notices passengers trying to discreetly steal sideways glances at her.
She throws her eyes up to the sky. “It will all be over soon,” she thinks. However, a tinge of distress lingered in her subconscious. It was as if she knew something was going to happen.
A Tough Situation
As Savannah made her way onto the plane, she attempted to suppress her heart from pounding. She held her breath, wildly searching for her seat.
He greeted her with disdain as he rose to let her into her window seat. As she squeezed past him, he let out a very loud passive-aggressive sigh. Savannah’s world caved. She knew this was just the start.
All Eyes Watching
He was an elderly man sporting bright yellow sunglasses who detested overweight people. He took out his phone and began typing. He was going to let his feelings be known.
He adjusted the settings of his screen by increasing the brightness and text size to as large as possible. He tilted the screen towards Savannah so that she could see exactly what he was doing. Little did he know, the passenger behind him could see as well.
Blame The Elderly
Savannah thought he was trying to grab her attention, so she asked him what he was doing. He said it was to help him see better, but this was a blatant lie. He continued to send a message to his “friend”.
When Savannah was able to make out what he had typed, she couldn’t hold back her tears. She quickly turned her head towards the window, shielding her sorrow. But it was too late, the man behind them saw everything.
The School Bully
Savannah now understood why he made an extra obvious effort to adjust his screen settings. He wanted her to see his message, a message he made no attempt of concealing from her.
Savannah broke down after she read it, “Sitting next to a smelly fatty”. It felt like she was back in school again and the man sitting next to her was the new class bully, but this time she had a savior by her side.
An Angel Rises
The old man received a sudden, vigorous tap on his shoulder. As he turned around he heard “I need to speak to you. NOW.” Startled, he rose and followed the young gentleman down the aisle.
Angry, Chase Irwin spoke firmly, “we’re switching seats NOW” he ordered. Taken aback by his confrontation, the old man cowardly agreed. Sitting back down, Chase addressed the tearful Savannah. Then he really became a hero to many.
On the plane ride, Savannah and Chase began to talk. Savannah couldn’t contain her gratitude. But all she learned of Chase was his name, profession, and that he was a parent too. When they landed, Savannah felt compelled to share their story.
But she couldn’t find Chase on social media. So, she wrote a powerful Facebook post and urged people to share the post until Chase was found. But she didn’t expect the response she received.
Savanna’s post began: “I am only sharing this story of what happened to me today in hopes that the person who stuck up for me will somehow be recognized…”
“We sat on the runway waiting for the OK to take off for about 10 minutes – I sat there unable to stop silently crying. I was scrunching myself up against the wall as far as I could,” she continued.”…The guy next to me takes out his headphones. Someone behind us says, “We are switching seats. Now.” The guy next to me said, “OK- why?” And I hear someone say (removing curse words), “You are texting about her, and I’m not putting up with that.”
Savannah was taken aback by how many likes, shares, and comments her post received. Many users wrote encouraging comments, stating that Savanna was beautiful just the way she was and not to let the rude man’s personal opinion affect her.
Many users also praised Chase for his actions and said that his good deed needed to be acknowledged. And they were determined to find him.
It wasn’t long before Facebook sleuths identified Chase Irwin by looking for the page of the restaurant he managed, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row bar and restaurant in Nashville.
Soon, people who had read Savannah’s heartbreaking story began to flood the restaurant’s page with well-wishes and praise for the hero Chase. And it wasn’t long before the media caught wind of the story.
Chase said in an interview with NewsChannel 5 that he had not approached the stranger and intervened for the publicity. When he saw the texts that Savannah’s rude seatmate was writing, something inside of him snapped.
“I was going to wait until the end of the flight to say something but I could not have this guy sit next to her this whole flight and her thinking he’s making fun of her,” Chase said. “It really gets to me deep down when I see someone crying, and when I saw her crying it really hit me hard and I actually got sick to my stomach.”
A Sleeve Of Tricks
Chase had been paying attention to the situation from the very start. He sensed that a situation would unfold as the elderly man was excessively rude to her.
As soon as he had seen the text, Chase knew he couldn’t let this old man get away with hurting another person so badly. But he had no idea how much of a difference his act of kindness would make.
He Couldn’t Believe It
The rude man had written “Hey babe, sitting next to a smelly fatty. She’s overflowing over my armrest. I think I’m going to be sick!” Chase couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
“I began noticing her wiping tears and my heart sank,” Chase confessed in an interview with Inside Edition. He knew he had to do something.
Fifteen Minutes Of Shame
He took a short video of the man on Snapchat and wrote: ‘This guy, prob mid-50s just text his wife that he is sitting next to a smelly fatty and was about to vomit. I watched her read his text and is now looking sad.”
Deliberating over whether he should confront the man right there and then, he added: “Should I… just say something when landing?” Then, he decided that he wasn’t going to tolerate it.
In an interview with local news, Chase mentioned how much he hated discrimination. When he had seen what the elderly man was writing, he had to act on it.
But instead of waiting to have a word with him when the plane landed, he called a flight attendant over to let her know what he was about to do. Then, he confronted him.
Setting Him Straight
According to Chase, he approached the fat-shamer and ordered him to swap seats with him, now. At first, the man was confused. Assuming that Chase was offering him a better seat, he thanked him and asked why. But Chase was about to set him straight.
“Because you’re a heartless person,” Chase told him. “I read your text, and the girl next to you crying also read your text. And you should really take into consideration other people’s feelings.” That certainly kept the old guy quiet. Then, before the rude man could say anything else, he sat down next to Savannah.
“He encouraged me not to let that guy get to me and that everything was going to be fine,” Savannah recalled.
“He said he just happened to see that guy’s text messages and he started shaking he was so mad and he knew he had to do something. He stopped the flight attendant and told her what he was about to do.”
Hailed A Hero
Savannah’s Facebook post garnered over 7,000 comments and 1,300 shares. And when Chase was located by his Facebook fans, he was inundated with messages, thanking him.
Posting a story about the incident to Facebook, Dierks Whiskey Row said it was “so proud” to share the story about Chase. “Thank you to everyone who has messaged us regarding this story,” the company said. “It has warmed the heart of our entire team.” But how does Savannah feel now?
“I would like to add that I do forgive him,” Savannah said in an interview. “I have said lots of things in my life that I shouldn’t have, just like everyone else. If I hated him, I would not be any different and it is vital to respond with love. Only love brings change in the world.”
Savannah said that neither she nor Chase have spoken with the man again… she doesn’t even know who he is. “And I really don’t want to know. I don’t want this story to be about him – my goal was for it to be about Chase and how we should all be brave like he was and stand up for others.”
Thanks to Chase’s kindness and Savannah’s post, they helped raise awareness for the victims of body-shaming — an issue which has now been brought to the forefront of people’s consciousness.
Body shaming is an abhorrent practice that should be stopped. Chase will always remain a true hero in Savannah’s eyes, as well as many others we’re sure!